CONCERNS ARE ON THE INCREASE
by Whit Gibbons
May 30, 2004
me a flyer being distributed in her neighborhood. It reads in part:
residents in our area are concerned about the three coyotes living in
our neighborhood. At least three dogs have been killed by these wild animals.
A neighborhood meeting concerning this issue was held last week. . . .
It was decided we should attend the next City Council meeting . . . to
voice our concerns. If you support the removal of these wild animals from
our backyards, please join us in attending the City Council meeting. .
can be expected any time another species begins to encroach on humans
and affect our property, health, or other aspects of our lives. As coyotes
become more common in many parts of the eastern United States, concerns
about them are becoming more widespread. Repeating some of my responses
to earlier questions about these animals may be helpful.
Q. Are coyotes
dangerous to dogs or people?
will attack cats and even dogs on occasion. A large healthy dog will fare
better than a small breed, and a coyote is more likely to run than to
attack under normal circumstances. I am unaware of a coyote attacking
a human, although I suppose the atypical case may be out there somewhere,
as always seems to be true when I declare that a certain type of wild
animal will not attack people. Possibly a rabid coyote or one with distemper
would attack a person, but the numerous coyotes I have encountered in
the wild have seemed greatly intimidated by or at least shy around adult
Q. We have
coyotes in our neighborhood. Should we be concerned when our grandchildren
A. I would
not be concerned about the safety of young children when coyotes are in
the area as long as a grownup is nearby. Of course I would not leave infants
or very young children unattended even if no coyotes were around and would
be far more concerned about the presence of some people than about most
Q. What is
the best way to catch a coyote so that it can be removed from a suburban
A. Not knowing
the answer myself, I turned to an expert, Dr. Julie Weston, who studies
large mammals: "My initial response is give it up and leave it to
a professional. Do not put your health and safety at risk dealing with
a coyote except in an emergency. Shooting coyotes does not require a permit
in some states, but in a suburban area, discharging firearms may be illegal
in itself. Trapping usually requires a permit, as other animals are likely
to be trapped as well. An inexperienced trapper will capture many raccoons,
opossums, and maybe a fox or two before the first coyote. Your most likely
capture in many suburban areas will be your neighbor's dog. Even for professionals,
catching a coyote can take patience and require a major effort. For someone
untrained in dealing with wildlife, the feat is not impossible but is
definitely difficult and could be illegal."
what to do, or not do, about coyotes could become more and more important
as their numbers increase in suburban America. Flyers similar to the one
above are likely to become more common over the ever-expanding geographic
range of the coyote. One factor to be considered by any community is that
most states no longer have the personnel to take care of animal problems
on an individual basis because of the unfortunate decline in support of
state wildlife departments. However, wildlife professionals who know how
to catch or kill animals and have the necessary permits can be found in
many areas. As with other service professions, some are highly reputable
and some are rip-off artists. So, let the buyer of coyote killers beware.
If you are
attending a meeting of local officials at which concerns about a perceived
pest are to be addressed, knowing general biological facts about the species
in question will be helpful in promoting your cause. In dealing with concerns
about coyotes, it's important to have confirmed data--not just speculation--about
specific activities and events attributed to the animals in the neighborhood.
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